She leaned forward from her wheelchair and bent down to kiss her dog. “I love animals,” she said.” They’re always there for you.” In spite of the stroke that left one side of her body paralyzed, Cheryl manages herself quite well. Most of the people in her life have let her down, so she’s learned to depend on herself since childhood. Her mother died when she was four years old, and her father abandoned her to an orphanage. Her adoptive father molested her for years. Cheryl grew up poor in her native Oklahoma. “We pretty much ate whatever we could grow.” Despite her difficult upbringing, she remains grateful. “I thank God for everything,” she told me as she shared her dog food with other Skid Row residents who couldn’t afford to feed their pets today. “I’m saving up money so one day, I can go back to Oklahoma and start a shelter for the homeless. A shelter that will always welcome people’s pets.”
Update: I visited Cheryl to give her some supplies. Sadly I found out her dog was stolen. Part of the reality of being homeless.